The Rawhide Braider

by Waddie Mitchell

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The Rawhide Braider

“Under two, over two, lay, pull, again
This will be a new quirt when I get to the end
And will dress up the saddle of some lucky friend
Under two, over two, lay, pull, again”

He sat in the shade of the barn every Sunday
As he had for more years than I’d been
Scrapin’ hair off a hide he had skinned, stretched and dried
To cut braiding strings narrow and thin

With his practiced eye and the skill of a craftsman
For usable art he would strive
His advice to the world always moving so fast was
“Slow down, no one gets out alive
Slow down, no one gets out alive”

“Under four, over two, lay, pull, again
This’ll turn out so nice it’ll hang in the den
When I give it to some ol’ time buckaroo friend
Under four, over two, lay, pull, again”

I spent most my Sundays in his school of life
While he’d share of things that he knew
And I found lots of guys I had long idolized
Learned their rawhiding under him too

Prepare the hide well, keep your blade razor sharp
Temper the strings almost dry
Take time to lay each rawhide plait tight and straight
And, build something that’s worthy of pride
Make something that’s worthy of pride

“Under two, over one, lay, pull, again
This’ll be a reata when I reach the end
But, only as good as what I have put in
Under two, over one, lay, pull, again
Under two, over one, lay, pull, again”

© Waddie Mitchell

WADDIE MITCHELL was immersed as a youth in the cowboy way of entertaining—recitation of the classics—on the northeastern Nevada ranches where his father worked. In 1985, Mitchell helped organize Elko’s first Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Since then, he has kept busy writing, recording and performing. Mitchell recites the older classics of cowboy poetry as well as his own, eloquently expressing moments grand and common, humorous and tragic. He has been honored with Wrangler Awards from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and The Nevada Writers Hall of Fame inducted Mitchell in 2011.